Old Alliances, New Bridges
Changing energy map shapes regional relations as Greece-U.S. ties hit a high point; meanwhile China forges stronger links as Dragon’s Head takes shape.
Spurred on by the country's difficult economic times, Greece has become particularly active on the diplomatic front.
Athens has tackled decades-old thorny issues and extended its reach to the east and west in moves that re-establish the country’s leading position in the region.
It is commonplace to describe Greece as being ‘at the crossroads’ of three continents, a geographical position which brings with it both opportunities and threats. As such, diplomacy has been perhaps the most important component of statecraft for the country’s leaders and governments over the centuries. For a small country with limited natural resources, Greece has punched above its weight at many key points in history.
“Because of its position and size, Greece has historically developed a multi- dimensional, pluralist approach to foreign policy,” says Constantinos Filis, General Director of the Institute of International Relations in Athens.
“The ability to maintain good relations in many directions will serve the country well in a time of shifting global weights and changing alliances. Greece is culturally closer to the west but also knows how to talk to the east, and that is a cultural skill that it can leverage to its advantage.”
Greece spends 0.04% of its budget on diplomacy. Driven equally by political culture and pragmatism, Greece has an interest in fostering stable, democratic institutions in its immediate neighbourhood and promoting respect for international law. In recent years, this quest has taken on greater urgency due to the country’s sovereign debt crisis. Taking its lead from earlier initiatives, Greece pursued a particularly active, multidimensional foreign policy agenda aimed at re-establishing the country’s role as a leading regional power.
A recent government initiative has brought responsibility for foreign trade and investment under the umbrella of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “In order to effectively respond to emerging challenges in this new era that follows Greece’s exit from the crisis, it became evident that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed to assume a wider, more modern role,” says Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Overall, this new, comprehensive strategy aims at transforming Greece’s economy, providing potential investors with a safe environment and promoting Greece’s numerous comparative advantages.”
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Geoffrey R. Pyatt U.S. Ambassador to Greece
Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, says Greece has transformed itself from a source of problems to a source of solutions on the international stage and is a pillar of stability in the broader region; meanwhile relations between Washington and Athens are at an all-time high.